Illinois-based full-line furniture retailer Darvin Furniture recently hosted its first Sweet Dreams Slumber Party event, which aimed to connect customers with the store’s sleep specialists so they could educate shoppers on the importance of a good night’s sleep.
The FAM caught up with Hanny Diab, Darvin Furniture & Mattress VP Merchandising & Business Development, to see how the event went, as well as what worked and what didn’t.
First, like most ideas, this one changed quite a bit from its first form. Diab says that a supplier the store was working with said they wanted to bring in a hot chocolate truck.
“But the reality is that I cannot have chocolate in my bedding department,” Diab says. “By the end of the day that could cost me $15,000.”
Eventually, they came upon the idea of a slumber party, and the store’s marketing department sent postcard mailers to locals.
This wasn’t the first event the store has put on—in the past, they have had meet-and-greet wine events as well as “fitting events” where the store had manufacturer representatives come in and fit customers for mattresses, and Diab says they’ve had great attendance.
Overall, Diab says the slumber party event was a success. Though the afternoon event was interrupted by a massive hailstorm, he said they had anywhere from 15-20 people standing in the store at a time.
“It’s not really about driving business, it’s more to build awareness,” Diab explains. “The reality is to show the customer base and even noncustomers that we do something different and fun. People can come in and see that we now have our bedding specialists tell you about the keys to good sleep. And we had fun events; there were prize giveaways for orders.”
Though the store’s staff couldn’t do anything about the weather, like any good experiment, there were a few things Diab says they can and would do differently next time.
“We had a hard time with our state and getting a temporary liquor license for the event,” Diab says. “Next time, we will look into that well ahead of time.”
Here are a few other things to think about when planning an in-store event:
Find the Purpose First. What is the purpose of the event? When you are developing the purpose, ask yourself “why questions” at least four times. For example, if you want to sell 100 mattresses, ask why?
Why? Because better sleep improves your energy levels, your mood, your looks, and more? Why? Because sleep is restorative to the body, mind, and soul. Why? Because sleep is essential to life
Budget. Keep financial considerations in mind — set a budget and keep it. If you’re a hefty spender, set your budget lower than you can afford to accommodate extra costs.
Tell People. Your turnout will depend on how well you market your event, so be sure to use multiple marketing channels and tactics to get the word out.
Slim Down the Sales Pitch. When event day comes, don’t serve up as many sales pitches as you would on a regular business day because you don’t want to come off as salesy; you want to foster a sense of community and show off your products.
Be Question-Ready. Remember, when you ask good, open-ended questions you give people space to talk about their problems. Plus, good questions demonstrate your intelligence and instills confidence in the guest.
Add a fun factor. Make sure you have something fun to offer your guests. Diab says that at some events Darvin’s marketing department created swag bags with branded gear that they gave out to customers. Take it a step further, and for people that sign up for emails, give them a “good today only” coupon to push purchases and reward them for coming out.
What advice does Diab have for other retailers who want to plan store events?
“Think about the event and what you want out of it,” he explains. “If you’re looking to really increase sales for that night, you might be taking away from the actual event that separates you from your competitors and that tells the customers or the consumers around you that you’re different. You want them to come in and have fun, you don’t want them to have to buy anything. So really don’t put that as your main focus, look at it more as a community building and brand awareness event.”
In-store events require a lot of planning and front-end work. But when they’re pulled off successfully, they can spread your business’s name around the community and create a deeper connection with people that can lead to life-long customers.
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